We all love a bargain, but there’s a huge difference between ‘cheap’ and ‘cost-effective’ cycling gear.
There’s an interesting equation which explains perfectly the number of bikes we should own: n+1, where ‘n’ equals the number of bikes currently owned. Similarly, there’s an equation that can be used to explain expenditure on cycling made by those who commute to work: (n+g)-£1, where ‘n’ equals the cost of other means of getting to work and ‘g’ equals the cost of a gym membership.
Essentially, the rule is thus. By cycling to work, one avoids expenditure on public transport or petrol, and possibly both; indirectly, the cost of a monthly gym membership which doesn’t need to be invested in can also be factored in. Add the monthly cost of both, minus £1 and that’s your monthly budget for cycling-related kit.
It’s a surprisingly powerful tool that can be used to explain or justify a myriad cycling bling – sometimes to loved ones and sometimes to yourself. But it can also be dangerous.
Although tongue in cheek, I’m pretty sure that cyclists come out the other end of the equation cost neutral at best – after all, riding hundreds of miles a month in all weather soon takes its toll; and chains, sprockets, wheels, tubes and clothes all need replacing.
Here’s how it normally happens:
- Step 1: Decide on an absolutely essential, unimaginably important piece of kit that simply must be added to the cycling arsenal.
- Step 2: Conduct thorough internet research to locate the best price.
- Step 3: Think about it a bit more and convince yourself you don’t really need it.
- Step 4: Return to stage 2.
- Step 5: Buy.
A few days later, a shiny new bit of bling arrives and life carries on happily.
Or, at least, sometimes it does. Very recently I went on a big, long ride through the lumps, bumps and lanes of Surrey. It was hugely enjoyable until I got home and noticed that the hub of my expertly purchased, bargain-tastic rear wheel was wobbling from side to side like a Friday-night drunk.
A week earlier, a spoke had popped. A month or so prior to that, a different spoke had popped and at this point the internet-sourced, free-delivery bargain wheel was beginning to look like a bit of a dud.
One of the popped spokes was fixed in the local workshop (kitchen), the other taken to a local bike shop for a more expert touch and the wobbly wheel (loose cones for those with a penchant for geekiness) was fixed tonight by another bike shop on the route home.
All of which takes the total cost of an internet-sourced bargain wheel well beyond what a local bike shop would have charged.
The point is that while the wheel could have been returned to the internet retailer which, no doubt, would have fixed the problem and returned it within a few days, this was of no use. The wheel was needed tonight, will be needed tomorrow and was needed yesterday.
Only local shops can help with this type of service.
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